Students in the Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley school districts returned to the classroom Aug. 23.

Kindergarten classes of today bear little resemblance to those their parents attended. There still is a room full of very short chairs and a restroom sized to fit, but there's much more emphasis on academics, according to Renee Fluhr-Callahan, kindergarten teacher at Hoover Elementary in Bettendorf.

Fluhr-Callahan, who has been teaching for 25 years, said students are ready for it because many attended preschool, but kindergarten remains a child’s first experience in a “big school,” and it’s a time of anxiety for both children and their parents.

In Bettendorf, students listened to a book about student behavior, and parents remained in the kindergarten classroom to help students and parents understand what to expect.

“This makes the student feel more comfortable and the parent more comfortable, too,” she said.

--Deidre Baker

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